Fact of outdoor life verified: Even on cloudy days, our skin and eyes can be affected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
The issue was raised in the Really? column (where purported health myths are examined) in the Well section of The New York Times. The claim: On a cloudy day, your eyes can be sunburned.
The Times cites the example of television personality Anderson Cooper who, after filming a report on water off the coast of Portugal, lost his sight for about 36 hours. Cooper experienced photokeratitis, or ultraviolet keratitis, which can occur even on cloudy days, says the report.
The conclusion reached in the Really? column: Even on overcast days, UV rays can pierce through clouds and cause eye damage.
The REI Expert Advice article Sunscreen: How to Choose and Use offers details on how UVA and UVB rays within the ultraviolet spectrum behave.
UVA rays, for example, travel in longer waves and can penetrate glass. (UVA rays hasten aging.) UVB rays oscillate in tighter patterns and do not pass through glass. This is why you do not get sunburned while sitting in a windows-up vehicle on a sunny day. Yet even then UVA rays are potentially impacting your skin.
Also available from the REI Expert Library: Sunglasses: How to Choose.
Photo: T.D. Wood